Climate change produced a striking new image this week: Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology added two new colours to their temperature charts, as the top end didn’t go high enough any more. The upper end of the chart now accounts for temperatures up to 54 degrees C.
The chart previously stopped at 50C, although the temperature has gone above that before. The new colours have been added in anticipation that temperatures will go over 50C again, and they were expected to in the current heatwave. Adding new colours to charts is largely symbolic, but it demonstrates the changing range of temperatures we can expect. Those purples may be called upon before the week is out, and Australia did set a new record average this week at 40.33C on Monday.
The temperature has never gone that high in Britain, ever, so the idea of 50 degree heat is hard to imagine, but other countries may need to re-draw their temperature charts eventually too. As David Jones of the Bureau of Meterology says, “everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”